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                                 Astana Tombs

 

It is where the ancient people of the Gaochang city are buried. It is famous for its terracotta figurines and tomb paintings. The site is located approximately 40 kilometers away from Turpan city to the south of the Gaochang Ruins. The 10-square-kilometer-mound houses over 500 tombs.

The residents here varied from the high rank government officials, great generals to soldiers and civilians.

It served as graveyard of the citizens of Gaochang from 273 in the Western Jin Dynasty to 778 in the Tang Dynasty. The cemetery was separated by gravel based on family. Each tomb is entered via a slope of about 10 meters. The earth chamber is over 2 meters high and 4 meters wide, with a flat ceiling or a dome. The dead were placed on an earthen Kang or a simple wooden bed at the back of the chamber.  They wore cotton or lime or silk clothes and had a wooden bar in hands. Their faces were covered by pieces of cloths. Around them lies models of pavilions, towers, horses, carts, parades, pens, ink and musical instruments or some food and fruits including grape, melons, dumplings, pancakes and so on. These things were prepared for the residents to enjoy in another world. The backs of some chambers were decorated paintings of figures, birds, animals, flowers and landscapes.

The majority in this graveyard are tombs of the Han People. Similar to other tombs in the Hexi(west of Yellow River) Corridor and Central China, tombs here were strictly arranged according to family generations. Usually the first tombs belonged to the oldest generations, then followed the older and so on.   

80% of the corpses have formed mummies naturally because of the dry and windy climate in this area. The best preserved one is that of the General Zhangxiong of Gaochang States., 1.9 meters tall with well-preserved clothes and hair.  The mummies excavated here can be compared with that of Egypt in quality.

Valuable relics dug out from the tombs include large collections of ancient books.